PEORIA, IL -- Here's a lovely first person account by writer Burt Raabe:
While on a long bike ride on the Rock Island Trail recently, I saw a notice on a bulletin board in Wyoming that Bruce Rauner would be in Toulon on August 16, Saturday. I looked at his website but there was no indication of any campaign stops so I assumed he was doing a tour of rural areas. On Saturday morning I drove out to Toulon to satisfy my curiosity.
Arriving in Toulon, I saw the county sheriff's car with its lights flashing in front of a cafe so I assumed this must be the place. As I went in, I noticed that this was a venue for supporters of Rauner rather than a town meeting or a press conference. Everyone was wearing Rauner shirts or buttons and bearing gifts or notes for the candidate. I stood inconspicuously in a corner and tried to be unnoticed.
Soon state Sen. Darin LaHood (R-Peoria) approached me and greeted me saying he was surprised to see me there. I told him I was curious and would have gone to the Peoria event if I had known beforehand and that I am not really a Rauner supporter.
In a few minutes a young man stood in front of me.
“Darin LaHood said you are with the Democrats. We are asking not to record.”
“I am not with anybody. I am a registered voter in Illinois. As a matter of fact, I voted Republican in the primary.” I replied.
“We still request that you not record and if you do, you must leave.”
I was standing there with a notebook and no recording device. People around me were taking movies on their iphones or other devices. But they were wearing Rauner campaign materials.
“I think I have the right to do what I want in here. Rauner is running for governor of Illinois.” I said.
As I noticed others recording the candidate, I pulled out my flip phone. It does not have the capability to “record” anything, only take a photo. At this point, the young man went to get the owner of the cafe, who is the only one who could throw me out. A small lady holding a pot of coffee came along with a larger man. She told me to leave and the man escorted me to the door.
I didn't see much of Rauner. He worked the room, shaking hands with elderly folks. I heard standard phrases like “shake up Springfield," “Chicago,” “Madigan” and other dog whistles that have different meanings for different constituencies.
I probably could have stayed had I not challenged the rule that out of all the people in the room, I was the only one not allowed to record even though I had no device anyway. Maybe they are afraid of Rauner making a “49%” gaffe. But I felt challenged myself.
I was born and raised in Illinois. I am not a hardcore Democrat although I vote and work for Democratic candidates whom I believe in. I also collected signatures for the fair map amendment, something the official Democrats opposed. I was upset when I left because I am not usually confronted like that.
Driving home, I had WCBU on the radio and listened to the entertainment oriented programs. They are getting more and more shallow and banterish. Outside of Princeville, I was able to pick up 90.7. The in depth program was about a proposed open pit iron mine in Wisconsin. Governor Walker's administration has dismantled environmental regulations in Wisconsin that would protect the area around the proposed mine. Rauner has expressed his admiration of Walker and he may have done that today, but not on record.
I would like to ask our candidates questions about environment, taxes, term limits, and jobs. Unfortunately, the parties resemble gangs more than they do public servants.
Here's what the Journal Star wrote about the event: